Even at age 36, the Argentine magician still has more than a few tricks left up on his sleeve. With Inter Miami down by two goals against Orlando going into the final 10 minutes of normal time, few would predict the five frantic minutes that followed which saw the Miami side claw back two goals. Perhaps even fewer could predict Messi to score yet another free kick in the dying embers of the game to draw level. Miami later on Sunday night went on to win the match on penalties and sail into the quarterfinals of the inaugural Leagues Cup. Another highlight was the link up between Jordi Alba and Messi for the opening goal.
In many ways Messi was already a legend at Inter Miami before even playing a game for the club. It is the biggest signing in MLS history, and his stardom has propelled not only Inter Miami to new heights but also the league as a whole. While many expected him to perform well in the MLS, few would have predicted the absolute dominance he has shown in his opening few games with the club. This recent game against Orlando was the best representation of the impact the World Cup winner has had, scoring once to give Miami the lead and then again nearly 80 minutes later to bring them back into the game. The first goal was a classic finish from the edge of the box while the second was a free kick with his left foot into the top right corner of the goal. The game was back and forth, with Miami taking the lead and then going down 3-1. The match then saw two goals in quick succession as the game went 4-2, and then Miami completed a heroic comeback after the 80th minute.
Miami has to win four more games to bring home the inaugural Leagues Cup before the MLS season gets underway. The team is dead-last and 12 points off the playoff spots with 12 games to go. Their form before Messi was underwhelming but the team is resurgent with their new signings and could well mount a playoff push yet.
Messi and Alba link up to score nostalgic goal
Barcelona fans will be replaying the first goal with a twinge of nostalgia, not only for the link up between their greatest ever player in Messi and one of their most iconic ever defenders in Jordi Alba, but also for the manner of the goal.
The pass from the overlapping Alba into Messi who cut inside the box and the stunning first time finish was reminiscent of the Argentine’s iconic last-minute winner against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the 16/17 season. It was an especially memorable moment not only for the context of the goal but also because it was Messi’s 500th in a Barcelona shirt.